According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the future is bright for Albania. The Council ranks Albania ninth out of 174 countries for tourism growth over the next ten years. A summary of the Council's report is available, as is the full report complete with many pages of graphs, charts and spreadsheets.
This summer I have seen a number of tourists on the streets of Tirana. Some of them may well be Albanian expats, or people of Albanian descent returning home to visit family, but others are genuine 'foreigners'.
Judging from their appearance, they are probably best described as 'independent travellers' - the kind of people who are not interested in luxury hotels or crowded beaches. This is a good start, but independent travellers are not the kind of big spenders that the tourist industry likes.
In the longer term, if Albania wants to bring in the kind of free-spending tourists who currently holiday in Croatia or Slovenia, there will have to be a huge investment in infrastructure - new roads, new hotels and resorts, reliable power, clean beaches and water and a lot more besides.
It will be a lengthy and expensive process but, little by little, things are improving. Today I picked up a new publication, Albania: Guide Turistike, which covers the whole of the country. The Celesi Practical Guide to Tirana now has a companion guide to the Albanian coast.
I am doing my bit for Albanian tourism by trying to persuade friends back home to visit - though with only limited success so far. Still, there is always next summer.
Still on the tourism theme, I have now added a new set of travel links. For potential visitors, I highly recommend the In Your Pocket guides - and not just because they have a link to my blog. The guide to Tirana, which has now been supplemented by a guide to Shkodra.
If any of you do decide to visit, let me know. It would be nice to meet up.
I wish some of this development would go to the North though, too. If Albania continues to focus exclusively on the beaches in the south, the disparity between Geg and Tosk regions will only be exacerbated.
Hiking, camping, mountain-climbing, hunting -- North Albania is great for all of this.
Kjo s'asht justifikim, por duhet kuptim se prej ka vijn kta njerzit e sepse jan kaq t'deshperuem. Ti po ban se kta njerzit munden me ndihmua vetet; si kshtu kur jan mbet pa vmendje? A mendon ti qe duajn kto njerzit me rri kshtu? Jan popull t'mjere, dhe pa shprese--Kush ka qief me ndejt burgosun n'shpi t'vete? Kta lypin ndihme, mshire, dhe ZHVILLIM dhe jo inat.
E di se si shkon rrotullimi, jo vec se jam Malcor, por edhe sepse jetoj shume afer Harlemit ne NY. Mjerimi, dhune, padituni--kta lehtsojn me kujdes durimi dhe kuptimi.
Kena nji fjal prej ka vij un per kete: Gjynaf.
a po krenohesh qe nuku je nga Shqiperia? a po te vjen mbare qe shqetherit ta kane zbuar fisin e faren?
me te paren here qe vajta nde New York me zu veshi per Gege e Toske. e kete e degjova nder malesore qe nuku keshen nje gje te mire per te thene per Tosket e "shtremmt e me kok' t'malle" por kur i pyesnje se perse nuku i degjon nje here te llafosen keq per shqetherit rrezonin syte perdhe e te thonin se edhe "shkijet e keqija jon' por kane bese edhe ato labt e ndyt' nuk duen m'i pa me sy"
epo ja ku jemi sot, dhe lechit akoma nder shqipetare te veriut se si e urrejne vellamin e tija se si ky i ngrati vate e theu shpinen ne pune, vuri dy franga menjane e vate ne shtepi te rri' me zonjen e me kalamane, e te gezonj djersen e lleres se tij.
edhe ne e kemi nje fjale per kete te pabere: gjynah
The bickering between "mergimtari" and anonymous is one of the funniest things I have ever seen on the internet. I almost think somebody is pulling a joke on your blog.
These two guys write in Albanian with extremely opposite dialects that are barely understandable to me who speak the standard language, yet they manage to insult each-other here.
Strange, strange, people...
Hic s'fola keq as per tosket as per labet. Kete debate mos a nise se s'ka vend ketu. Nuk e urrej Tosket--kush ka than kshtu? Ai qe ka fol kshtu ne NY kur je kene ti asht kene budall, dhe jo spokesman per t'gjith veriu.
Mua me ka than nji shok prej Korces, se na Gegt jem pa kullture dhe t'eger. M'ka than se Shqipja si flasim ne s'asht Shqipja e vertete. Sa per qytetet e Shqpinise Etnike t'veriut, s'ka dite gja. Ah, pra, ai a kene budall dhe s'ka dite cka a kene tu fol. Gjithashtu, ti mendon se ai njeri qe ke nigiua tu fol ka dite se cka a kene tu than?? Marri!
Ne po flasim per Shqiptar qe ndodhin Geg, dhe jo per Gegt qe ndodhin n'Shqipni.
Por mos e ndrysho temin kshtu. Mendoj se kete huq na shkaterron ne Shqiptar.
And yeahm its, I found it funny too, although it goes to show that we really are nji popull after all is said and done.
mos u rrokni tash ju vllazen shqiptar! Tirana ka pergjegjsi per zhvillimin e verit se o hyqmet. Po edhe shoqnia civile munet me nihmu ne zhdukjen e atyne t'kqijave.
I hope some of your friends will get to visit you in Albania next summer. Last summer down south I met people from the US, Canada, the Balkans, Scandinavia, Scotland to name a few during Mjaft Fest. I think it is crucial that Albania improves its infrastructures and that it works on improving its image on the west. Another important thing would be to improve the north which is beautiful and a lot of oppurtunities for winter sports up there sometime in the near future. All the best
ITS - I'm glad its not just me who can't make out what this conversation is about. I thought my limited Albanian skills were disappearing rather than improving.
Klea - sounds like a very nice holiday for them. In the absence of a fully developed tourist industry, knowing someone who knows where the sights are is definitely crucial to getting the best out of Albania.